MPs reject bid to give Parliament veto on Brexit despite Tory rebellion

Posted On: 
7th February 2017

A bid to give Parliament a veto on Theresa May's final Brexit deal was defeated tonight - despite a mini Tory rebellion.

MPs will spend a third day debating the Article 50 bill tomorrow.
PA Images

MPs voted 326 to 293 against an attempt by Labour's Chris Leslie to give the Commons and House of Lords a vote on the agreement the Prime Minister returns from Brussels with.

The comfortable government victory came despite seven Conservative MPs voting with the opposition and some others - including former chancellor George Osborne and former education secretary Nicky Morgan - abstaining.

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Brexit minister David Jones had earlier appeared to offer a significant concession by confirming MPs will be given a binding vote on Mrs May's deal before the European Parliament passes its own judgement on the agreement.

But Downing Street later insisted he had merely been re-stating the Government's existing position, and that the vote would not force the Prime Minister back to the negotiating table, as Labour had been demanding.

"What the minister has said today is confirmation of what we've always said - we would offer parliament more certainty and clarity on the approach to exiting the EU," said a spokesman.

"It will be a choice between accepting a deal that has been agreed or leaving the EU without a deal."

To the astonishment of many of his colleagues, Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer hailed the Government move as "a significant victory for parliament".

He added: "Labour has repeatedly said that Parliament must have a meaningful vote on any final Brexit deal – that means MPs are able to vote on the final deal before it is concluded; that the Commons has a debate and vote before the European Parliament does; and that the vote will cover withdrawal from the EU as well as our future relationship with the EU.

"This eleventh hour concession is therefore welcome, but it needs to be firmed up as the Bill progresses through both Houses."

One senior Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "All of us sitting behind him were left scratching our heads. He ended up defending the Government's concession more than the Government were."

Nicky Morgan - who was seen having a row with Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson while the vote was going on - made clear her unhappiness on Twitter.

Former business minister Anna Soubry said she rebelled against the Government "in accordance with my conscience".

Elsewhere, it emerged Mr Osborne missed the vote because he was giving a speech about Brexit it Antwerp, Belgium.

MPs will debate the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill for a third day tomorrow, before holding a final vote on it in the evening.

Tory whips fear they could lose a vote on an amendment by Harriet Harman calling for EU nationals living in the UK to have their rights protected after Brexit.

Earlier today, the Shadow Cabinet agreed that Labour MPs would be ordered to vote in favour of the bill.

Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis, who has vowed not to back Article 50, remained tight-lipped today about whether he will resign from his frontbench post.

It is also unclear whether Diane Abbott, who came in for criticism after missing a vote on the bill last week because she had gone home sick, will toe the party line.